When seeking new talent, a clinical research clinic in Lenexa looks to the biotechnology program at KU Edwards Campus
As the industry of clinical research booms locally and across the country, the JCERT-supported biotechnology program at KU Edwards Campus continues to produce well-rounded graduates that add value to the companies that hire them. Through strong connections with bioscience and clinical research companies around Kansas City, KUEC’s biotechnology program provides internship and career opportunities for students looking to enter this growing field.
One local bioscience company that works closely with KU’s biotechnology program is ICON – formerly PRA Health Services – a clinical trial and research center located in Lenexa. Becky Losh, senior talent acquisition specialist at ICON, says the company’s history with the biotech program at KU Edwards has been, and continues to be, beneficial for all involved.
“When I came on board in May with PRA Health Sciences, a prior senior leader had begun building a relationship at KU and was serving on the advisory board with the biotech program,” says Losh. “PRA was acquired by ICON, but our focus on early talent with KU Edwards continued. We met with Randy Logan and Scott Zerger to discuss opportunities to stay connected and engage with students in the program.”
One of the many benefits for students in KU’s biotechnology program is the opportunity to work closely with local employers like ICON, who recently sponsored the program’s senior capstone projects for both the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years.
“We’ve received great interest from biotech students in opportunities with ICON historically,” says Losh. “In 2022 we hired four summer interns, and I believe two are being extended through the fall as they work on their senior capstone projects. All four performed well during their internship.”
Since its start in 2016, KUEC’s JCERT-supported biotechnology program has focused on teaching content that’s relevant to the needs of local industry, and developing a pipeline that helps undergraduate students quickly enter the workforce after graduation. Losh agrees that KUEC’s program continues to set itself apart from other biotechnology programs.
“Although many universities have a biotech or clinical research program, they are not all created equal,” says Losh. “I have noticed that KU students are well-rounded with soft skills. They’re strong communicators with a high attention to detail, and show adaptability, resilience, and initiative. Those soft skills, combined with the education and knowledge they are gaining from their coursework, makes them ideal candidates for the clinical research industry.”
To meet industry demand, Losh anticipates that ICON’s connection to KUEC’s biotech program will continue to be an important component of their hiring strategy. “The clinical research industry is booming and continually growing,” says Losh. “Due to ICON’s performance year-over-year, I anticipate continued growth – meaning we will need to hire more talent each year.”
As the bioscience industry continues to grow, Losh understands the importance of biotech programs like KUEC’s, and the crucial role they play in preparing graduates with the skills and knowledge they need to quickly enter the workforce and create value for the local employers that hire them.
“In recruiting, we commonly find that there are not enough qualified and experienced candidates to do all the studies that are out there, so building this early talent pipeline to grow into experienced and senior roles is vital to continue lifesaving research.”
Learn more about KU’s JCERT-supported undergraduate biotechnology program